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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Focal Clear Mg

30-second review

If you're after high-end headphones, Focal is probably a name you recognize. Its headphones can sometimes fetch outlandish prices (as is the case here) but the result is a pair of truly jaw-dropping cans.

Such is the case for the Focal Clear Mg, which sells for $1,500 (€1500, £1,399, AU$2,199), and sits nicely in between the budget Focal Listen and the top of the line Utopia. While $1,500 is quite a lot of money for headphones, we came away extremely impressed by the Focal Clear Mg’s resolution, tuning, and design. 

This may well be the end game for many headphone enthusiasts. 

Price and availability

The Focal Clear Mg is available worldwide for $1,500 (€1500, £1,399, AU$2,199). 

In terms of Focal’s open-back headphone offerings, the Clear Mg is only bested by the Utopia, which costs a staggering $4,000 (€4,000, £3,699, AU$5,499).  

Design

The Clear Mg’s design is unmistakably Focal. The company has done a great job creating an iconic look and utilizing it across its entire headphone portfolio. In terms of materials, they're made from aluminum, leather, and microfiber. 

The headphone is extremely comfortable thanks to its reasonable weight and microfiber headband and earcups while the perforated microfiber ear pads allow your ears to breathe so you’ll never get hot during long listening sessions. 

The Focal Clear Mg on a table.

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

The Clear Mg are completely open back, which means sound is allowed to pass in and out. This allows the headphones to project sound from outside your head, but you’ll be relegated to listening at home in a quiet room as the sound leakage would easily annoy anyone sitting around you on a train or at your office desk. 

Powering the Focal Clear Mg are magnesium ‘M’-shaped dome drivers, which are extremely stiff but light. This helps give the Clear Mg amazing sound quality, which we’ll cover below. 

The Focal Clear Mg comes with two cables: one single ended and one balanced. This means you can connect the headphones to any 6.35mm or XLR balanced amplifier. Thankfully, the Clear Mg uses 3.5mm jacks at the earcups, making it easy to swap for aftermarket cables. 

While the headphones don’t fold, they do come with a nice hard travel case that can carry both cables and the headphone. While perfectly fine for putting in your backpack, the included case isn’t crush proof and we’d avoid putting them in your checked baggage to avoid damage. 

Features

The Focal Clear Mg features two 40mm magnesium dome drivers and a 55 ohm impedance. Combined with a sensitivity of 104dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1kHz, this means the Clear Mg can be driven by most amplifiers and even smartphones without issue. However, pairing them with a good amp will unlock their full potential. 

In terms of weight, the Clear Mg weighs in at 0.99lbs (450g). For reference, its closed back sibling the Focal Celestee is nearly the same weight at 0.95lb (430g) and the venerable Sennheiser HD800S is quite a bit lighter at 330g without its cable. While not the lightest headphone, we found the Clear Mg comfortable for long listening sessions. 

The Focal Clear Mg on a table.

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Audio quality

The Focal Clear Mg is one of the best-sounding open-back headphones out there and the thing that immediately grabbed us was how much resolution the headphones offered. Every detail of a track was rendered for us but without sounding harsh across a variety of music genres. 

The Clear Mg had the uncanny ability to make even poorly recorded music at least fun to listen to. Other headphones may offer the same resolution but do not treat poorly recorded material as well. 

In terms of tonal balance, the Focal Clear Mg is ever so slightly warm from neutral but the entire frequency range is represented well. Highs have a ton of extension and air without ever being sibilant or harsh. The midrange is meaty, with a slight emphasis on the mid-bass, which gives the headphone a slight warm tilt. Bass extends deep with excellent texture, and is never overbearing. We were surprised that bass is actually more impactful and more emphasized than the Audeze LCD-X, a headphone known for its bass. 

The Focal Clear Mg on a table.

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Soundstage is good, but not the widest. We wish the Focal Clear Mg could project music even further from left and right to create a more immersive experience, but soundstage depth and height are excellent. Imaging is incredible as well, and allows listeners to pinpoint every note and sound. 

We tested the Clear Mg with a variety of headphone amps and it’s low impedance/high efficiency means even the modest iFi hip-dac had no trouble driving the headphones to extremely loud volumes (in both balanced and unbalanced modes). We loved how musical the Focal Clear Mg sounded with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition but equally enjoyed it with the iFi Zen Amp, iFi Zen DAC, and the tube WooAudio WA3. With the Clear Mg, you don’t need to empty the bank account for crazy supporting gear. 

Should you buy the Focal Clear Mg?

The Focal Clear Mg on a table.

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Buy them if...

You’re looking for incredible detail and fun
The Focal Clear Mg sound incredible with all genres of music and gets your toe tapping. 

You enjoy the spacious sound of open back headphones
If you have a quiet place to listen to your music, you’ll love the spacious sound of these open back headphones. However, if you want to block out the world, we recommend checking out the closed back Focal Celestee.

You don’t want to go crazy upgrading the rest of your system
The Clear Mg sounds great from a modest front end so you don’t have to go spending thousands on a good DAC and amp. 

Don't buy them if...

You want absolute neutrality
The Clear Mg has a slight mid-bass bump and as a result, is slightly warm from neutral. If you want absolute neutrality, check out the Sennheiser HD800S instead. 

You intend to mix music
The Clear Mg is for listening enjoyment, not sound engineering. You’ll want to check out Beyerdynamic or Audeze for headphones that work well in the studio. 

You’re on a budget
Safe to say, the Focal Clear Mg is quite a splurge. There are better budget options for those getting started in the headphone hobby. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Razer Huntsman V2

Razer Huntsman V2 Optical two-minute review

The Razer Huntsman V2 optical gaming keyboard is an absolute joy to type on, and I should know: I type for a living. 

We writers enjoy how a good, noisy keyboard can make any home office sound like an old-timey newsroom, but we also understand that your coworkers or family might not be so keen on the idea. If that's the case, the Huntsman V2 is the best of both worlds: It gives you the tactile satisfaction of the best mechanical keyboards while sparing the ears and sanity of those around you. 

That said, if you are offended at the idea of a quiet mechanical keyboard, you do have the option of getting it with Clicky (Purple) key switches for $10 less (about £10 / AU$15) - so there's something for everyone here.

The Huntsman V2 doesn't have as many features as the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog though. While the two models look very similar, the mechanical version lacks the funky, RGB LED strip around the wrist rest carried by its analog counterpart. (The wrist rest is still great, like a fluffy pillow for our hands, and we love it anyway.) The Huntsman V2 does have per-key RGB backlighting as well, so you might not get as much RGB as you'd like, but this is Razer: You're still getting a lot of RGB.

It also doesn't have USB passthrough, which we definitely liked about the Huntsman V2 Analog. This plus side: This omission means you have a single braided USB cable rather than the two – one USB Type-A and one USB Type-C – on the Huntsman V2 Analog.

The dedicated volume knob and media control buttons return, which is a nice feature to have, but as far as extra buttons go, that's it for the Huntsman V2. While you can record and program macros using the Razer Synapse software, it requires using keyboard shortcuts rather than having a dedicated button you can use like those found on some of its rivals.

Razer Huntsman V2 Optical

(Image credit: Future)

What the Razer Huntsman V2 does have that a lot of other keyboards don't is an 8,000Hz polling rate, like the Razer Viper 8K gaming mouse. That said, this feature may seem like a nice thing to have, but it's hardly even noticeable while you're typing away.

With a mouse, you can see the cursor glide across a screen, and the higher the polling rate, the more often the mouse's position on screen gets updated (assuming you have a monitor with a fast-enough refresh rate to take advantage of those extra data points).

This means that the higher a mouse's polling rate, the smoother its motion across the screen will appear. This is a very legitimate difference, and so an 8,000Hz polling rate in a mouse absolutely makes sense. With a keyboard? Honestly, not at all.

Look, I'm a professional typist who's so familiar with a keyboard that I can write a thousand words in under an hour and never once look down at the keys I'm tapping away at. And even I'm not a fast-enough typists that I'm outpacing the standard 1,000Hz keyboard polling rate.

Don't believe me? Let's do the math: The world-record for words per minute is 216 (set in 1946 by Stella Pajunas on an IBM electric typewriter), which translates to about 54,000 keystrokes an hour, 900 keystrokes a minute, or 15 keystrokes a second. 

A Hertz is a measure of how many times something is cycled every second, so a standard keyboard is polling about 67 times per keystroke. So, eight times faster gives you 536 polls per keystroke versus 67. If having 536 opportunities to capture a keystroke seems meaningful, this is definitely the keyboard for you. Your eyes still won't notice the difference though, and you probably aren't even typing at a world-record pace.

Fortunately you aren't paying extra for that polling rate. The Razer Huntsman V2 Optical is a good bit cheaper than the Huntsman V2 Analog, and it's available now on Razer's website for $199 / £199 / about AU$275 for the Linear Red Switch model, and $189 / £189 / about AU$260 for the Clicky Purple Switch model.

There's also a Tenkeyless option available as well, for $159 / £159 / about AU$210 and $149 / £149 / about AU$205 for the Linear Red Switch and the Clicky Purple Switch models, respectively.

Buy it if...

You want a choice between quiet and clicky key switches
While you might have to pay a bit more for the quiet key switches, at least you have the option between the two.

You want an incredibly comfortable typing experience
The Razer Doubleshot PBT keycaps are durable and perfectly textured to make for very pleasurable typing.

You want the fastest keyboard response available
Razer's HyperPolling technology offers an 8,000Hz polling rate, which is 8x faster than standard or even more expensive rival keyboards. If you insist that you can tell the difference, then definitely go for this keyboard.

Don't buy if...

You're on a budget
Even the cheapest possible option for the Huntsman V2, the Tenkeyless with Clicky Purple Switches, is pretty expensive. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of great mechanical keyboards at much lower prices.

You want the full RGB experience
Unlike the Huntsman V2 Analog, the wrist pad for the Huntsman V2 Optical isn't ringed with RGB, so if you're looking to really kit out your space with RGB everywhere, then you're going to have a pretty obvious hole in that setup.

You want programmable macro buttons
Unlike many of its rivals, the Huntsman V2 Optical doesn't have dedicated macro buttons, so you'll have to use keyboard shortcuts using existing keys. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Where to buy RTX 3080

At the moment, it’s still impossible to find the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. Even the major retailers are out of stock of the card due to the ongoing shortage. We’re here to keep you in the loop, however, of any restocking that might happen in the near future. Be sure to check out and bookmark our Where to Buy the RTX 3080 page for updates.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is finally out in the world, alongside the rest of the 3000 series. And it might just be the biggest generational performance jump we’ve seen from an Nvidia graphics card in a long time.

Taking 4K gaming into the mainstream arena, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 delivers a drastically better performance over its predecessors. It comes with a 50-80% performance boost over the RTX 2080 and 20-30% over the RTX 2080 Ti, breezing through best PC games in incredibly high resolution.

More than that, however, Nvidia has taken cues from the competition in terms of price. The RTX 3080 offers all that power for much less than you’d expect – almost half the price of its predecessors. That makes it a much more accessible prospect to most consumers, but especially for those who want to get into 4K gaming without blowing their budget.

The RTX 3080 is one of the greatest releases from Nvidia, and it’s a compelling upgrade for anyone who wants to get the most out of their gaming experience. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is available on September 17, starting at $699 (£649, about AU$950) for the Founders Edition. However, as with any major graphics card launch, there will be dozens of aftermarket graphics cards from companies like MSI, Asus, Zotac and more.

Just be aware that some of these aftermarket card designs may see steep price increases over this Founders Edition, based on things like exotic cooling solutions and factory-tuned overclocks. But every RTX 3080 should more or less be in the ballpark of performance as the one Nvidia itself launches. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on a coffee table next to its box

(Image credit: Future)

Features and chipset

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is based on the new Nvidia Ampere graphics architecture, which brings huge improvements to both raw performance and power efficiency. The fact that Nvidia has increased the power budget so much over the RTX 2080 while boosting power efficiency means that the overall performance profile is far above what any Nvidia Turing graphics card was capable of. 

There have been obvious improvements to the RT and Tensor cores – we're on the second and third generation, respectively – but perhaps the biggest improvement has been to the rasterization engine. 

Through some clever optimization, Nvidia was able to double the amount of CUDA cores present on each Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) by making both data paths on each SM able to handle Floating Point 32 (FP32) workloads – a vast improvement over Turing, where one data path was dedicated entirely to integer workloads. This effectively doubles raw FP32 throughput core for core, though this won't directly translate into double the frame-rate in your favorite PC games – at least, not for many of them.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on a coffee table next to its box

(Image credit: Future)

What this means is that, while the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 only has 46% more SMs than the RTX 2080 at 68, it more than doubles the CUDA core count, from 2,944 to 8,704. This translates to nearly three times the theoretical FP32 throughput from around 10 TFLOPs to 29.7 TFLOPs – an absolutely massive generational leap. 

When you pair the uplift in CUDA cores, with massive boosts to Cache, Texture Units and Memory Bandwidth – thanks to the move to faster GDDR6X memory on a 320-bit bus – gaming performance gets one of the biggest generational jumps in years, even if it does fall a bit short of that '2x performance' target that we're sure some folks were hoping for. But more on that later. 

Nvidia RT cores are also back – that's why Nvidia has the RTX name, after all – and they also see massive improvements. Nvidia Ampere graphics cards, including the RTX 3080, include second-generation RT cores, which will function similarly to the first generation RT cores, but will be twice as efficient.

When ray tracing, the SM will cast a light ray in a scene that's being rendered, and the RT core will take over from there, where it will do all the calculations necessary to find out where that light ray bounces, and will report that information back to the SM. This means that the SM is left alone to render the rest of the scene. But, we're still not at a point where turning on ray tracing doesn't have any impact on performance. Maybe some day. 

Tensor cores are also twice as powerful this time around, which has led Nvidia to only include 4 in each SM rather than the 8 you would find in a Turing SM. Coupled with the fact that there are now more SMs in general, DLSS performance also gets a massive boost. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future)

This generation of graphics cards isn't all about gaming, however, and Nvidia has brought a couple of new features to the table that will make life better for pretty much everyone with an RTX card.  

For instance, we were already big fans of RTX Voice, and Nvidia has finally brought it out of beta and worked it into a fully-featured broadcasting app. While RTX Voice filtered background noise out of your microphone, you can set up Broadcaster to filter backgrounds out of your webcam – or even just apply a blur. 

The video section is still in beta, and we did see some glitches, but it's way better than any other solution out there for blocking out your background without a green screen. 

One of the features we're most excited to see implemented, however, is Nvidia RTX I/O, which is an API that will work in tandem with Microsoft's DirectStorage API, to route data straight from your SSD to your graphics card. In next-generation games, this should not only massively reduce loading times, but also mirror the groundbreaking I/O performance that has been teased with next-generation consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Far more than high frame rates or pretty graphics, this technology is critically important to future gaming tech. 

Unfortunately, this is a technology that needs to be implemented by game developers in their games, and we weren't actually able to see what kind of real-world difference it will make. Though it is something we will be actively testing once the technology is widely implemented – and because the consoles are going to be using similar tech, we expect it will have a faster turnaround than ray tracing did. 

For the actual Founders Edition graphics card, Nvidia went with an all-new cooler design, which is way more practical than anything it's ever done with a reference design before. The company used a shorter, multi-layered PCB in order to have the back end of the card just be all heatsink. By doing this, Nvidia was able to mount a fan on the back of the graphics card that will suck cool air through the heatsink, and expel it up and out of the case. 

 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 at close-up

(Image credit: Future)

We were a bit worried when we first saw this fan design that it would affect CPU and RAM temperatures, as it's blowing hot air directly over these components, but even in our personal rig, where we have a Noctua NH-12UA air cooler on an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, we didn't observe any difference in performance. We guess it helps that most PC games don't really stress both the GPU and CPU to the same extreme – not yet at least. 

As far as power delivery goes, that new 12-pin power connector is definitely there, and we have some mixed feelings about it. It's clear that the new PCB design of the Founders Edition card needs this smaller connector to make this new cooler work, we just wish that the 2 x 8-pin PCIe to 1 x 12-pin dongle Nvidia includes was a bit longer. As it stands, it's kind of hard to tie it out of the way to not be immediately visible, but at least aftermarket cards won't be using it right away. It's worth noting, though, that Nvidia is making the 12-pin power connector design available to any manufacturer – even AMD – that wants to use it. 

The Founders Edition also has three DisplayPort and one HDMI 2.1 output for displays, which is good. However, we don't like that Nvidia got rid of the USB-C output here, as creators will definitely still want to use this incredibly powerful card, and many pro-grade monitors out there are, in fact, USB-C monitors

Despite our little issues with the Founders Edition – and despite thinking it was ugly when it was first shown off – it's an attractive piece of hardware in person. All black with silver accents, the RTX 3080 looks like a professional-grade piece of hardware. 

The only lighting is the 'GeForce RTX' logo on the side of the graphics card in white, which will surely please any anti-RGB users out there. Plus, gamers that really want to go all-out with rainbow lighting will have that option with third-party cards.

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(Image credit: Infogram; Future)

3DMark Time Spy Extreme (Higher is better)

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3DMark Fire Strike Ultra (Higher is better)

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3DMark Port Royal (Higher is better)

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings @ 1080p

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings at 1440p

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings at 4K

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings w/ ray tracing at 1080p

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings w/ ray tracing at 1440p

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Metro Exodus Ultra Settings w/ ray tracing at 4K

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Total War: Three Kingdoms at Ultra Settings at 1080p

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Total War: Three Kingdoms at Ultra Settings at 1440p

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Total War: Three Kingdoms at Ultra Settings at 4K

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Grand Theft Auto V Max Settings at 1080p

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Grand Theft Auto V Max Settings at 1440p

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Grand Theft Auto V Max Settings at 4K

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Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate Quality at 1080p

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Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate Quality at 1440p

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Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate Quality at 4K

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Max Settings (no MSAA) at 1080p

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Max Settings (no MSAA) at 1440p

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Max Settings (no MSAA) at 4K

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Final Fantasy XV canned benchmark, High settings at 1080p

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Final Fantasy XV canned benchmark, High settings at 1440p

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Final Fantasy XV canned benchmark, High settings at 4K

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Assassin's Creed Odyssey Ultra Settings at 1080p

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Assassin's Creed Odyssey Ultra Settings at 1440p

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Assassin's Creed Odyssey Ultra Settings at 4K

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Far Cry 5 Ultra Settings at 1080p

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Far Cry 5 Ultra Settings at 1440p

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Far Cry 5 Ultra Settings at 4K

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Minimum power consumption

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Maximum power consumption

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Minimum temperature

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Maximum temperature

Performance

Test system specs

This is the system we used to test the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (16-core, up to 4.7GHz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid 360P Silver Edition
RAM: 64GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 3,600MHz
Motherboard: X570 Aorus Master
SSD: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro @ 1TB
Power Supply: Phanteks RevoltX 1200
Case: Praxis Wetbench

Just from Nvidia's own (overblown) marketing, we were already expecting the RTX 3080 to be a fast graphics card, but calling it "fast" is a bit of an understatement. From the moment we opened the box, it's been in our personal machine, running everything from Final Fantasy XIV to Control, only coming out of our personal rig to be plugged into our test bench for actual benchmarking. 

Before the 3080, we had an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in that machine, and the difference was immediately apparent before we even start measuring performance in a quantifiable way. For instance, one of the games we play the most is Final Fantasy XIV – it's a problem – and in that game, particularly in the latest expansion, there were moments where the RTX 2080 Ti would drop below 60 fps at 4K. That doesn't happen with the RTX 3080. In fact, the game is typically running anywhere from 75-100 fps at 4K with Maximum graphics settings, where the RTX 2080 Ti typically chilled around the 60 fps mark – a massive jump in performance at around half the price. 

This story just kept repeating itself over and over no matter what game we played. Metro Exodus maxed out with Ray Tracing and DLSS? Smooth locked 60 fps at 4K. Control with the myriad ray tracing effects? Silky smooth. Even Final Fantasy XV with all the weird optional graphics effects sits pretty at a steady 60 fps at 4K. Accessible 4K60 gameplay is here – even if we are using the term "accessible" very loosely here.

While the thermals in our benchmarks aren't too exciting, you should keep in mind that those were recorded on an open-air test bench. In our closed tower, with two 240mm fans serving as intake, temperatures peaked around 60°C – way cooler than the mid-80°C temperatures we would typically see with the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition. 

When looking at the actual benchmark results, it's clear that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is in a class of its own, standing head and shoulders above even the RTX 2080 Ti. Right off the bat in 3DMark Time Spy Extreme, the RTX 3080 is a whopping 63% faster than the RTX 2080 and 26% faster than the 2080 Ti – a massive generational leap when you consider that the RTX 2080 was only 40% faster than the GTX 1080 when we reviewed it back in 2018. 

But Time Spy Extreme isn't even even the best-case scenario for the RTX 3080's gains. In Red Dead Redemption 2, where we basically maxed out every single option that wasn't MSAA – multi-sample anti aliasing is very expensive and not worth it – we saw a massive 87% improvement gen-on-gen.

This falls short of that 2x performance leap that was teased at the RTX 3080 reveal, but it's definitely closer than we thought it would actually get. The RTX 3080, all told, is between 50-80% faster than the RTX 2080, while only falling below that in Fire Strike Ultra, where it only managed a 29% lead – but that's still a meaty advantage. 

That wide gap in performance is only really present at 4K, however, when the graphics card is free of bottlenecks. There are many titles in our testing suite where even the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, paired with 64GB of RAM at 3,600MHz, held back the RTX 3080. This is why, for instance, the RTX 2080 Ti and the RTX 3080 are virtually identical at 1080p in Metro Exodus, but opens up to a 19% performance advantage at 4K. 

For this reason, we really don't recommend anyone actually buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 unless they're going to be playing at 4K, or possibly 3,400 x 1,440 Ultrawide. The gains are just not going to be there at lower resolutions, so you're better off just waiting for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070. 

The performance on offer with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 even further widens the gap that exists between Nvidia and AMD on the high end, more than doubling the performance of AMD's most powerful consumer graphics card, the Radeon RX 5700 XT in many tests. AMD Big Navi is going to have a big fight on its hands if it wants to try to claim the 4K crown that the RTX 3080 just won. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on a coffee table next to its box

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You want the best 4K performance
4K gaming is incredibly difficult to run, but the RTX 3080 is the best graphics card yet for handling it. You'll be able to max out every game under the sun at this resolution at or very near 60 fps. 

You want next-gen ready performance
With the next generation of games on the horizon, performance requirements are about to skyrocket. The RTX 3080 is significantly more powerful (at least on paper) than the GPUs in either the PS5 or Xbox Series X. 

You have an older graphics card
Because the generational gains between Nvidia Pascal and Nvidia Turing graphics cards were pretty minor, many folks held on to their 10-series cards. If you have one of these older cards, however, you'll get absolutely massive gains with the RTX 3080.

(Image credit: Future)

Don't buy it if...

You play games at a lower resolution
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is a 4K graphics card, and as such, you really shouldn't pick this graphics card up for gaming at a lower resolution, you'll run into bottlenecks with even the most powerful CPUs on the market. 

You're on a budget
When Nvidia Turing launched, the RTX 2080 saw a significant price increase over the GTX 1080. And, while Nvidia didn't raise the price, it didn't lower the price back to pre-Turing levels. If you want to get your hands on the RTX 3080, you're going to be paying a high price – even if it is worth it.

Originally published in September 2020 

Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2

Two-minute review

The best smart scales shouldn’t be complicated. However smart it seems on paper, the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 from Chinese brand Xiaomi is all about minimalism. It doesn’t look much and, to the lay user, nor does it do much. In fact, unless you’ve downloaded Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is just a digital scale of the kind that has been around for decades. 

However, there’s a lot going on under its tempered glass hood. Not to be confused with the simpler Xiaomi Mi Smart Scale 2, the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 uses bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) to present you with data on your weight, muscle mass, BMI, bone mass, body fat, visceral fat, basal metabolism, water and an overall ‘body score’.

Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2 on a wooden floor

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

The Mi Fit app deals with all that, presenting easy to read scores and charts, but you don’t have to get involved in any of that. The beauty of the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is that you can just step on it, see your current weight, and get on with your day. All that’s missing is a heart-rate sensor, but then you’ve probably got a heart rate monitor, fitness tracker or a smartwatch for that.

Price and release date

Originally launched by Xiaomi in 2020, the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is a follow-up to the original Mi Body Composition Scale from 2018. It’s available from the Mi website for £24.99 (about $35 / AU$50), and at a lower price from third-party retailers.

Be sure to look for the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2 (model number 2XMTZC05HM) and not the Xiaomi Mi Smart Scale 2, which is a slightly different product.

Design

  • Minimalist design
  • Weighs 1.7kg
  • Uses 4x AAA batteries

The Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is all about minimalism. Covered in reinforced glass, its 300 x 300 x 25mm chassis has rounded corners and is shiny, but doesn’t attract fingerprints. Its sensible, simple design continues with a large – but not massive – LED display up the top that displays your weight, and only your weight, in white characters. When it’s not doing that, it’s completely invisible. In the centre of the product is a ‘Mi’ logo, and at each corner are steel sensors.

Batteries for the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

The scale communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0 and is powered by four AAA batteries, which are included in the box alongside an instruction manual in Chinese characters. We would have preferred a built-in battery, though Xiaomi suggests they’ll power the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 for about 12 months.

Performance

  • Well weighted and steady
  • High-precision pressure sensors
  • Measures your balance, but not heart rate

The Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is all about its high-precision pressure sensors. Step on to them and your weight is shown within a second, and if you try to weigh yourself a few minutes later you’ll get exactly the same weight. 

Crucially, the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 doesn’t move when you put one foot on it, unlike some much smarter scales that overlook the basics. However, you do need to remove your socks to get anything other than your weight; the scale needs skin contact to get body composition data.

Weight displayed on the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

You can also get a score of your balance by standing on the scale on one leg for a few seconds.

What it does lack is Wi-Fi, but that's less of an issue than it might sound. A lot of bathrooms suffer from a weak wireless signal (after all, no one ever puts a router router by the toilet), so the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 using Bluetooth to communicate with a smartphone makes a lot of sense.

Top-down view of the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Companion app

  • Simple, clear figures and charts
  • Calculates body age and ideal weight
  • Syncs with Apple Health, Google Fit and Samsung Health

Though you can just use the Mi Smart Scale 2 as a digital scale that displays your weight, there’s a lot more going on under the hood that is only revealed if you use it to funnel data into the Mi Fit app. Each time you weigh yourself, it takes a host of measurements and sends it all to the Mi Fit app via Bluetooth, which then uploads it all to the cloud. It then syncs with Apple Health, Google Fit and Samsung Health.

Although the Mi Fit app also includes things like walks, runs, calories used etc, you can just use it to track your weight. There’s plenty of bioelectrical impedance analysis here, including body fat, muscle, protein, water, bone mass, visceral fat and a score for your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest).

Setting up the Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2 in the smartphone app

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

It also offers your body age and your ideal weight (based on your height, age and BMI, “so you don’t have to lose weight recklessly and become excessively thin for the sake of aesthetics” according to Xiaomi. To get that kind of analysis you must tell the app your gender, date of birth and height.

First reviewed September 2021

Buy it if

You need a new scale
It’s so unobtrusive that we think anyone considering buying a bathroom scale should look at something like the Mi Body Composition Scale 2. It’s not expensive, and it will automatically talk to Apple Health and Google Fit, via the Mi Fit app without you having to do anything.

You live in a large household of weight-watchers
The Mi Body Composition Scale 2 is able to identify up to 16 people according to their body metrics. It’s also got a ‘visitor mode’ so no one accidentally ruins someone else’s weight loss regime.

Don't buy it if

You just want to know your weight
Although you can just use this product to weigh yourself, if you have no need to know things like your muscle mass, BMI, bone mass and body fat then go for the more affordable Xiaomi Mi Smart Scale 2.

You want notifications your phone
The Mi Body Composition Scale 2 does upload its data to your phone, but it doesn’t send you a notification each time a new weight is recorded.

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